Hero ISL 2022-2023: What to look forward in matchweek 9

Matchweek eight of the Hero Indian Super League (ISL) 2022-23 was breathtaking to say the least. 16 goals were scored across five games. From the comeback of Odisha FC to a new team at the top of the table, the last matchweek was eventful.

Mumbai City FC kickoff matchweek nine against  FC Goa at the Mumbai Football Arena followed by Odisha FC hosting NorthEast United FC at the Kalinga stadium in Odisha. In Saturday's doubleheader, we will see Chennaiyin FC host Hyderabad FC as they look to bounce back from their last defeat whereas Bengaluru FC will try to continue their previous match form as they take on ATK Mohun Bagan at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru later in that day. In the concluding fixture of matchweek nine, Jamshedpur FC face Kerala Blasters FC in JRD Tata Sports complex in Jamshedpur.

With matchweek nine around the corner, here is a look at the key narratives to keep an eye on:

A spicy rivalry awaits at the Mumbai Football Arena.

Matchweek nine starts with a banger in the west coast of India. It is more than the repeat of the well known Hero ISL 2020-21 semi-final. The rivalry started even before that last-four clash as Sergio Lobera who helped Mumbai City FC to win the double was the boss of FC Goa's 2019-20 League Winners' Shield-winning team parted ways with the club just before the season concluded. Alberto Noguera became the latest player who joined Mumbai City FC from the Guars.

The head to head stats are looking grim as the Gaurs are winless against Mumbai City FC in their last six matches. This fixture is even more tough as they are coming after a tough loss against Bengaluru FC at their home. Whereas, Mumbai City FC have made a great start to their bid to win the League Winners' Shield again, being the only unbeaten team so far. Des Buckingham's side are very keen to consolidate  top position in the table.

From cards to cracking goals, this west-coast rivalry has seen everything and we expect nothing different in matchweek 9.

NorthEast United FC looking for their maiden win in Odisha.

'Comeback kings' Odisha FC welcome North East United FC who are searching for their first win of the season. Josep Gombau is arguably the happiest manager at this moment in the Hero ISL, as his team manages to win from every tough situation so far. They have snatched nine points from the jaws of defeat till now, the highest among all the teams.

For NorthEast United FC, unfortunately it's their worst start for a season. But, all is not lost as NorthEast United FC have bolstered their attack with the signing of Colombian striker Wilmar Jordan. Fans are expecting thethe Columbian to make an impact against Odisha FC and turn around the fortunes of the Highlanders.

NorthEast United FC's task will be made tougher by Odisha FC's home record which has seen them win all games played in Bhubaneswar this season.

Blunt Hyderabad FC faces leaky Chennaiyin FC.

The Saturday double header starts with an intriguing clash, where Chennaiyin FC, two-time champions welcome Hyderabad FC, the current champions at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in Chennai. Both of them are coming after a loss and desperate to win this fixture to set things right.

The Marina Machans' eventful 2019-20 season got a turnaround when they beat Hyderabad FC at the Marina Arena with two late goals. As captain Anirudh Thapa wants to repeat the same, the fans are expecting another Abdenasser El Khayati show, who has a record of scoring every 34.5 minutes this season. The club's top scorer is expected to get a license to start and give a second home win for the fans.

On the other hand, Hyderabad FC are looking to produce a performance of defending champions. Hyderabad FC have scored the lowest number of goals in the top six would want to capitalise on the leaky defence of Chennaiyin FC, who have conceded 14 goals so far. Will this fixture see a resurgence of Big Bart?

Familiar faces in the rival colors.

The fans of Bengaluru FC would not have imagined seeing Ashique Kuruniyan in rival colours play at the Sree Kanteerava stadium but they would to make peace with it as they got Roy Krishna, Prabir Das, Sandesh Jhingan in return as the three players arrived from the Mariners. This fixture is poised for the former players in the opposite camp to prove a point.

In the Hero ISL history, Bengaluru FC have never beaten ATK Mohun Bagan so far, but Simon Grayson already broke a similar kind of curse against FC Goa and would like to repeat the same at the Kanteerava stadium in Bengaluru, which they fondly called the fortress. ATK Mohun Bagan are coming after a spirited win against defending champions Hyderabad FC. Carl McHugh is expected to fill the void of Joni Kauko as he did last week.

A win in this fixture at the Kanteerava stadium will announce the true comeback of Bengaluru FC this season, whereas a win would do a world of good for ATK Mohun Bagan and will underline their credentials for the the Shield.

A repeat of last year's semi-final at the Furnace.

The Red Miners welcome Kerala Blasters FC after a two week's break for Ivan Vukomanovic's side. This fixture is the repeat of Hero ISL 2021-22 season semi-final, where Kerala Blasters went past the League Shield winners and prevented them from having a shot at the double. The yellow army with that win also stopped the seven-match winning run of the Red Miners, which is still the record in the Hero ISL.

The odds are different this time, as Jamshedpur FC under Aidy Boothroyd are struggling to repeat the past glory. The frequent injuries are not helping the cause. The head coach acknowledged that the team conceded too many in the first half. The duo of Dimitri Diamantakos and Adrian Luna would like to test the defense early in the match.

On the other hand, Kerala Blasters FCare finding their winning way after the initial glitches. Kerala Blasters lost three out of the four initial matches but came out victorious in the last three matches against NorthEast United FC, Hyderabad FC and FC Goa. The tactically flexibility of Ivan Vukomanovic is once again going to be tested as he faces the Red Miners who are pretty good at playing long balls and counter attacking. A win is essential for both the team to boost their playoff hopes.

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